The Learning Record, an Assessment System Plus a Classroom Record Keeping Tool

The Learning Record is an open system of literacy and mathematics assessment, K-12, maintained and monitored by the classroom teacher to provide evidence that students are moving toward agreed upon goals and standards. Parents (and/or other adult mentors) and students themselves contribute evidence for the Record. Teachers summarize and record this information to inform their teaching and to calibrate their interpretations of the standards with others beyond the classroom for accountability purposes.
Specifically, the LR provides a framework for assessing and improving the annual progress of all students in reading, writing, and mathematics. Teachers use the same performance standards throughout the year adjusting their instruction for students representing the full range of racial, ethnic, socio-economic and linguistic diversity at each grade level, K-12.
Against validated reading performance scales, for example, the LR helps teachers and parents measure the extent to which students are becoming independent readers (Grades K-3), becoming experienced readers (Grades 4-8), and accomplished readers (Grades 9-12).
In K-3, teachers observe and document student use of letter-sound correspondence, apply their prior life experience and build on their own familiarity with the conventions of print as ways to understand what they read are documented by the teacher. Teachers use running records and abbreviated miscue inventories as well as informal observations to determine which skills and strategies students are using and which ones they need to learn. In Grades 4-8, teachers look for signs that students are learning to read widely-recreational as well as informational text-in all subject areas. In Grades 9-12, students provide evidence they can read critically across the curriculum. Throughout the school years, parents contribute their impressions of student progress as do students themselves.
A vehicle to improve teaching and learning
Integral to the LR assessment system is the professional development model in the teaching of reading and the other language arts, the student record exemplars, the standardized format, and the on site and across site moderation process to validate teacher judgments of student progress. The LR helps schools coordinate their school reform efforts so that all staff can help students learn to read.
In accord with the premise that school restructuring efforts must lead to increasingly higher levels of achievement among all students, the LR system of assessment features the following characteristics:
— It coordinates a personalized teaching and learning environment which focuses on literacy and mathematics development as basic to school success. Teachers really come to know their students and their students’ families so they can offer relevant learning opportunities.
— It supports an integrated curriculum, K-12, which engages students in authentic and critical inquiry, regardless of subject matter boundaries. It helps teachers, parents and students themselves evaluate student performance on non-standardized tasks in favorable contexts.
— It includes teachers, parents and students in the assessment of student work using performance standards commonly understood by them. Equally important, it includes all stakeholders in contributing what they know the student can do and in providing evidence of it.
— It provides a K-12 system of assessment which flows outward from the classroom in order to ground school decision-making in student results and student work. A process of moderation among teachers at the site and across the U.S. validates individual student scores in reading, writing and mathematics.
— Its “coaching” model of professional development supports school staffs as they build on their own expertise, creating the capacity at the school site to evaluate and improve student achievement.
— Because teachers share their students’ work in order to analyze it and, in turn, to create learning situations to improve the quality of the work, professional development melds with assessment purposes, including those of public accountability.
— It provides individual and school level reports of achievement, based on clearly defined but locally interpreted scales of performance K-12. Results can be aggregated across schools, and multiple modes of measurements can be included. Reports of student and school performance can begin within three years, with a base line of school achievement possible at the end of two years.
— Computer versions of the LR forms are available which permit easy collection of portfolio data and transfer of student files. Records and performance scales are available in Spanish.